Sunday, December 25, 2016


by nick nelson

illustrations by danny delacroix

lola, the technician, showed keith, the consultant, a chart.

“look at this guy, will you?”

keith glanced at it. “move him ahead of the others. we don’t want his brains going through his skull and hitting the ceiling.”

a group of twenty citizens had been randomly picked up in the morning and had their i d’s and brains scanned.

after being given a shower and a disinfecting and some muffins and beverages they had been herded into a waiting room where they would be summoned by the technicians and consultants for an examination and then released or retained, as their situation might call for.

“have a seat,” keith told the man lola brought in.

but the man had already taken a seat.

lola closed the door behind her, leaving keith alone with the man.

keith punched in the number on the chart lola had left him, and the citizen’s history and brainscan appeared on the screen.

“lawrence, right?”

“that’s me.”

“what seems to be your problem, lawrence?”

“problem? i haven’t got any problem. i understand why you have these sweeps. believe me, i think you guys do a great job, catching terrorists and child molesters and all, and i am behind you one hundred percent. but i don’t have any problem, and i just want to get back to my job.”

keith looked at the screen, “yes, i see you do indeed have a job. lawrence. i’m impressed. but according to what i also see here, you are one angry man. one very angry man. so something must be bothering you.”

lawrence shrugged. “nothing that wouldn’t bother anybody.”

“oh? and what might that be, that would bother anybody?” keith scrolled on his screen as he spoke. “oh, i see here that you are a football fan. a jets fan, to be exact. is that right?”

“i’m sort of a jets fan. but what i really am is an anti-cheatriots fan!”

“ah,” said keith. “the cheatriots. yes, here at the center we have heard of the cheatriots before.”

“i’ll bet you have! everybody has heard of the cheatriots!” lawrence shouted.

keith looked up. lawrence’s whole attitude had changed. a few seconds ago he had seemed perfectly relaxed - or as relaxed as anybody ever was who was brought to the center - but now he was trembling, and holding on to the sides of his chair as if afraid he might be ejected from it.

“the fucking cheatriots! fucking belichick! fucking pussy-ass tammy brady! did you see that game against the raiders on thursday night! the cheatriots o-line was holding on every play! every play! and their special teams! special treatment teams! and fucking goodell! it’s all a fix!”

“calm down, big fella, calm down.” keith considered hitting the buzzer under his desk to summon a couple of orderlies, but held off. “relax, take a deep breath.”

“fucking goodell, “ lawrence raged on. “goodell and his bullshit fines! it’s all just a smoke screen! why doesn’t he just go down on the sidelines and let brady fuck him in broad daylight, he’s not fooling anybody!”

“lawrence, lawrence,” keith used his best soothing voice. “just relax. relax. it’s going to be all right. we are here for you. we here at the center are here for you.”

lawrence calmed down. he looked frightened, as if he realized his outburst had not helped him if he wanted to be released from the center. “i’m sorry. it’s just - it’s just every time i think about those assholes brady and belichick and what they get away with. they’ve ruined football… they’ve ruined america. i just… and how long has it been going on now? fifty years? a hundred?…”

“you are exciting yourself again, lawrence. calm down. i have something here for you.”

lawrence’s eyes widened. “you are going to give me drugs.”

“no, lawrence, not exactly. you see… in my professional judgment you are too far gone for that.”

“too far gone for drugs! no, no!”

“i have something here, lawrence, far more powerful than any drug. the most powerful thing in the world, in fact.”

“oh?” lawrence was calm now, but looked frightened. “and what might that be?”

“the truth.”

“the truth?”

“the truth.” keith folded his hands in front of him on the desk. “you see, lawrence, there is no reason to hate tom brady and bill belicheck. and do you know why?”


“because they don’t really exist." keith looked lawrence straight in the eye. "and it isn’t just tom brady and bill belicheck. everybody you see on tv, everybody you see on the news, every so-called celebrity you see on the internet, they are all just actors. oh, and everything you were ever taught in school, everything you were taught about history, about science and religion, about everything, it’s all a lie. i’m just saying. and all the actors you see, they were brought to this planet 10,000 years ago by the masters, and that all play different parts through the years.”

“wow,” said lawrence. “that’s amazing.”

“for example,” keith went on. “the guy playing tom brady now, he was j f k, and before that he was charles lindbergh and before that he was rudolf valentino. and the actor playing belicheck, before that he was stalin, and before that he was ludendorff, and before that he was bismarck, and before that… you get the idea,”

lawrence shook his head. “i never suspected anything like that,” he told keith. “um… can i go now?”

“oh,no, no. i am sorry, lawrence.” keuth shook his head. “you see, now that you know the truth, you can’t very well be released back into the general population, can you?”

“i can’t? then - what happens to me?”

“you will be relocated to another planet.” keith turned back to his screen. “let’s see what we have here. this will just take a second… here we are, planet 353… we can have you on a ship in a few hours. you will like planet 353. nice weather, at least according to this. plenty of things to do. and they will feed you.”


lawrence had an uneventful flight to planet 353. the ship was only half full, and the trip took six hours, including a thirty-five minute stop at some space station. during the flight he was given a tuna sandwich which was kind of dry, some potato chips that he found pleasantly crispy, and a salad that was not too bad.

when they arrived at planet 353, lawrence and five other earthlings were given papers and i d badges and led by a uniformed guide through a door.

outside the spaceport, it was dark night, and the first thing lawrence and the others noticed was that the landscape was filled with some kind of massive construction project.

two enormous edifices of some kind - both towering to the sky - were being built and both were brightly lit up and filled with activity. sparks were liberally flying through the air and falling to the ground or floating up to the dark heavens.

“this is where you guys will be working,” the guide explained. “we have thirty-seven hour days here, and we work a full thirty-seven, with four shifts. you will be assigned shifts after we get you in quarters and assigned bunks.”

“but what are they?” a young woman beside lawrence asked. “what are they building there?”

“what are they?’ the guide repeated. “they are pyramids.” his voice dropped to a reverent tone. “they are still with us - praise the universe - but these two pyramids are being built against the day when they will house the remains of the two greatest human beings who have ever lived. “

“oh?” lawrence asked. “snd who might those be?”

“who do you think?” the guide answered. “tom brady and bill belicheck.”

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